The 2020 NBA Draft is set for Wednesday, November 18, 2020, and this draft class is one of the more difficult ones to bet on. In past years, the No. 1 overall selection has been pretty straightforward, and the number of freshmen and international talent in the lottery has grown from year-to-year.
In 2020, I expect that to continue, and on DraftKings Sportsbook, they’re offering four-player props and two draft night props for the top 10. I’ll share two of my favorite draft night props and why there’s a ton of value in betting both.
LaMelo Ball, Over 2.5 +180
There’s a lot of hype surrounding LaMelo Ball and whether or not he will be the top pick of the draft, but I’m not sold. His older brother, Lonzo, was drafted second overall in 2017 by the Lakers. Lonzo was traded to the Pelicans this past offseason after two seasons with the team. This prop is basically who will be the highest-drafted member of the Ball family, and I like Lonzo to win the family feud.
LaMelo’s last competitive game professionally came on November 30, 2019, almost a full year ago. That’s going to be a red-flag for some teams, and the only two teams that would have to pull the trigger on Ball at No. 1 or 2 are Minnesota or Golden State.
The Timberwolves have the option to select anyone they want, and I’d be shocked if Ball is ranked ahead of Edwards on their big board. Minnesota holds the Nos. 1 and 17 picks in the draft and they can go numerous ways with their top two choices. The best bet is that they go Edwards and draft a point or combo guard talent to go alongside D’Angelo Russell with the 17th overall pick.
The most surprising move of all would be taking James Wiseman when they have Karl-Anthony Towns, so this is a two-person race between Ball and Edwards to go first overall. Wiseman has already declined a meeting with the Timberwolves as he has his eyes set on Golden State taking him at No. 2 overall.
I have Ball slotted at No. 3 overall to Charlotte, an attractive landing spot, but one that would give Michael Jordan’s franchise that attention he’s wanted. With Devonte’ Graham, Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington, Malik Monk, and Terry Rozier, they would have an offensive explosion with Ball in that rotation.
Most believe Charlotte prefers Edwards and Wiseman over Ball, as does Golden State. Golden State selecting Ball would make him the immediate replacement for Steph Curry or Klay Thompson when they exit the game. Golden State’s bench could use an offensive talent like Ball, but at what cost?
The Warriors bench at guard is Jordan Poole, Ky Bowman, and Damion Lee, so Ball makes sense. Although Golden State’s starting center is Marquiss Chriss, this will be perhaps their only opportunity to get a top center for a team that expects a return to the Finals after a low-year. Having an athletic glass-cleaner with Wiseman’s potential is enticing, and Ball may come with enough baggage to pass on.
If I were Warriors management, I’d rather have a lineup of Curry, Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, and Wiseman over Ball coming off the bench. Golden State’s power forward/center situation is down to Chriss, Green, Paschall, and Kevon Looney. The Warriors’ power forward and center situation is down to Chriss, Green, Eric Paschall, and Kevon Looney.
Ball defense should certainly be a concern, and for Golden State, they’re going to up the anty this year on that end of the ball. Charlotte will be looking for a fast-paced, exciting brand of basketball in 2020-21, and Ball fits that.
This prop seems too good to be true and if the Timberwolves and Warriors pass on Ball as I anticipate, this is excellent value for the public at +180.
Over 4.5 Freshman Drafted in Top 10 +252
In the 2019 NBA Draft, four of the five top picks were freshman and seven of the top 10. This year’s class has a little more depth with overseas talent as well as an upperclassman, but one thing for sure, March Madness derailed some of the draft talents that were to be on display.
Most players season ended early as the play-in tournaments were canceled or forfeited because of COVID. The international players who will surely hear their name called in the first 10 picks are LaMelo Ball and Deni Adivija, but are there enough upperclassmen going in the top 10 not to see value in this prop? I doubt it.
I have five freshmen in my top 10, with three I am 100-percent confident will be selected. Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman are my top two selections, with Okongwu most likely going anywhere from 6-10. The two wildcards I have are Auburn’s Isaac Okoro and Florida State’s Patrick Williams. I like both of their value and ability to play multiple positions for any of the teams 8-10.
Other freshmen that could assist this prop are Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey and longshots Cole Anthony of North Carolina and Precious Achiuwa of Memphis. My prediction for the top 10 draft picks is as follows.
- MIN: Anthony Edwards, Fr., Georgia
- GSW: James Wiseman, Fr., Memphis
- CHA: LaMelo Ball, Australia
- CHI: Deni Adivija, Israel
- CLE: Obi Toppin, So., Dayton
- ATL: Onyeka Okongwu, Fr., USC
- DET: Tyrese Haliburton, So, Iowa State
- NYK: Kira Lewis, So., Alabama
- WSH: Isaac Okoro, Fr., Auburn
- PHX: Patrick Williams, Fr., Florida State
I wouldn’t be surprised if Okoro or Williams snuck in with Washington at No. 9 or Phoenix at No. 10. Williams and Okoro each have been a hot commodity on draft boards and fit all four teams’ needs 6-10. I believe Detroit and New York will go after guards, whether that’s a point or shooting guard, so these two will likely have to find a home somewhere picks 8-10.
One player and guard to note that could sneak into the top 10 is Killian Hayes of France. He’s a combo guard that shoots left and could be the sleeper of this draft. Kira Lewis has impressed mightily in workouts with the Knicks, and with new management in Tom Thibodeau, I don’t expect them to go their usual route. Lewis is an offensive talent with his foot always on the gas pedal, and if Thibedeau can mold his defense, he can be one hell of a player.
Over 4.5 Freshmen drafted is undoubtedly the better bet and more likely prop to hit the over between this and 3.5 International players in the top 10. The NBA has a habit of selecting 18 or 19-year-old talent outside of just the 2019 NBA Draft. Eight of the 10 top picks in 2018 were freshman and eight again in 2017. This field isn’t as easy as past classes, but this is one trend that I like to continue.
Make sure to check the odds at more than one sportsbook to get the best value with limited props out for the 2020 NBA Draft and 2020-21 regular-season.
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